tv Q A CSPAN March 28, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EDT
sure these discussions are broad and rich, but reflect a diversity of views. please join me in congratulating her. [applause] a look ahead today on what congress will be working on this week. later, a look at congressional funding for the national flood insurance program with property- casualty insurers association of america live at 7:00 a.m. eastern europe and spend. -- here on c-span.
present obama will deliver a speech in libya today from the national defense university in washington, d.c. he will give an update on the situation there including the u.s. -- including the u.s. actions. that is the president's speech on libya tonight at 7:30 p.m. eastern live on c-span and on cspan radio. >> as protests continued in the middle east and nato is set to take control of military operations in libya, find a letter from the u.n. security officials, and searchable on the cspan video library. ♪ ♪ >> this week, charles blow, the visual op-ed columnist for "the new york times."
>> charles blow, your biography starts with this, charles below is the visual op-ed columnist for "the new york times" since april 2000 age. 8 and features charts as a form of opinion journalism. what is this all about? >> it is pretty much as it says. i am a numbers guy. i'm a trend spotter. i use charts to visualize those trends. i use those charts in my opinion pieces and build the opinion out of the chart. for me, the data comes first. i do not decide i will talk about a subject and well and look for data, i search for data first and see if it says
something interesting and something that agrees with an opinion that i have or something sometimes surprises me or my readers and i build up from their. >> i started reading you on saturdays. when was it decided that they want you to do this? >> i started almost three years ago. it was an untenable situation at national direct magazine. i commuted from brooklyn to washington and i single dad with three kids. i had three nannies and it was untenable situation. my bosses told me to work from
home. bill keller at the times kept harassing me saying that you have to come back to the times. we had lunch and he said you should think about the things you would like to do at the * if you were to return. i wanted to have a feature on the op-ed page. i was doing charging for the news pages, i could never do an op charge. t. that was the genesis of the idea. >> how did you get in to get into being a graphics specialist? >> complete happenstance. in college my aspirations its high school is i want to be the governor of louisiana.
i was from louisiana and met the governor when i was a junior in high school. it was after he had said that the only way i can not be reelected if i was caught in bed with a live or dead girls. i have never seen anybody with that much confidence in my life. these governors are having the best time of their lives. i would love to be the governor of louisiana. i majored in english in college and pre-law. >> you want to gremlin? >> in louisiana. i was as if i did not go to law school with an english degree? i did not know.
they told me to major in journalism and said that of english. you still get to write even if you don't go to law school. you can at least have a trade and work as a journalist. in journalism school they made us the concentration. i wish i had more noble reasons than wanting to party all the time but one was official communications and it can sell natural to me, the visual part, i had been an amateur artist my entire life. i chose that concentration. >> let's go back to your earlier comments about edwin edwards. how many years did he spend in prison? >> i am not sure. was it only once since? >> he is out now. what about that part of his life? >> in louisiana, people are not
really punished so much as you would expect them to be for being out laws. there is a certain amount of mystique about the flouting block and catch me if you can mentality. i am small town where my town is the town were barley and clyde were killed. -- bonnie and claude were killedyde were killed. we do this idolizing and making heroes and villains. it seems to me to be a louisiana bank. half >> compare that with york city. >> think of is very different. one thing about coming to new
york that was interesting. how do you move to such a big city, and i find it similar in some ways. my neighborhood feels like the small town i grew up and. i got this and grocery store and one dry cleaner and everybody knows you. it feels like my tiny town. in other ways, in the sense of law and order, it is very detached. it is not community-driven and the politics, i think are not necessarily as community-driven as you'd find in a small town. >> on june 12, 2010, you wrote "aside from the people i live in my building, i know the name of only one person who lives on my block. i want to limit on the fact that i am also with names and can be
quite socially awkward. then i thought that maybe it was a city thing. that explanation goes but so far. i'm actually beginning to believe it is bigger than me and bigger than my block and bigger than the city. i increasingly believe that less neighborlyness is becoming a transit to the modern american experience -- a most unfortunate development." you say you are socially awkward. why do you think that? >> i don't know. i should probably go to a therapist to figure that out. i am two minds about myself. there is a very outgoing guy who was never shy but in small settings, i can be a bit awkward
because i don't do the small talk thing very well. it creates a weird thing because people and expects the person they see they expect a gregarious personality. in these intimate situations with relative strangers, i am not really that person. >> you talk about it in this column and dimension earlier you are a single father with three children. how old are they? >> the oldest is 17 and the twins are 13. >> what are their names? the oldest is taj and the twins are ian and imam. >> the you do it? >> it is a job.
it is demanding on my time but i have learned -- i have been doing it for 15 years -- i have learned how to juggle it and plan and make it work out. >> your diat a dinner with her three kids and talking about the world, what are the couple of basic things you want them to know about this flight? life. >> want them to be good people. i don't push them toward news but i want them to be centered and focused and good human beings, good citizens of this city the country, and the world. and to be open to opportunity and open to challenge this and i feel like if i can interview them with those basic skills
outthe rest will fall into place. >> what is their reaction to a data was published in "the new york times?" >> they know that they're not impressed by it. they are still in some cases irritated by it. they will sit in a green room before school before i do a television show. they are not impressed. >> what year did you graduate from grambling. >> it must have been 1991. >> what did you do after that? >> i injured at in turned at the "new york times" before that. i left bare and when i
graduated -- i left there and when i graduated, i got a job at "the detroit news." it was snowing and i interviewed and got there at night. i saw all the big beautiful buildings and it was a great city full of people. i did not realize that all those buildings were empty and it was a different city than i was expecting. i learned to love detroit. there is a certain grittiness about it and a nobility or spirit to overcome. there is a lot of great people there. i did not like that weather. it was 1.5 winters that i had to leave them what did you do there? >> i was the graphic artist.
part of my mass comm major was that i learned adytum like everyone else. i started a magazine and was editor of the newspaper. when i got to detroit my goal was to figure out a way to marry the reporter with what they wanted me to do in the graphics field. i tell them something happens i would be going. that was fine with them. i wanted to visually tell a story and that became a valuable skill because not many people were doing that. at the time . >> why did you pick grambling in the first place? >> it is 20 minutes from where i grew up.
it is where my mother also went to college. the couple of my brothers went to college there. it was not my first choice. i had a wanderlust and want to get as far away from my time and space as i possibly could. -- my tiny space as possibly could. i have full scholarships and other places. my mother, however could not imagine her youngest son being far away from her. she talked and talked and talked until i relented and said okay. i found it to be an amazing experience in one way. i think this is true of many historical black colleges. it removes the idea of race from
education because if you do not succeed, there is no way to blame it on anything else other than your own inability to succeed. having that experience up for one period in your life is very interesting. if you don't get elected to the student council, it is because we don't like you. there's a freedom that comes up with that. i really enjoyed that. >> you finished rather well, magna cum laude? where to get the interest in learning? >> my mother. she has an amazing woman. but -- she is an amazing woman. i have four older brothers.
all my life, i can remember my mother going back to school. she went back to finish her degree and she took courses in the evenings to get her master's degree. i remember sitting in the back of classrooms when she could not find anybody to keep me and i would be doodling and she would be taking notes. the ability of learning to transform a life is something that has been instill in may from the time i can ever remember her. she never watched television other than the news the"wheel of fortune" and sometimes it " jeopardy." to read the newspaper from front to back. -- she read the newspaper from front to back. constantly wanting to improve herself and may actually seeing how that plays out in my life made it part of my life.
>> what kind of profession did she have? >> she was a schoolteacher. >> is he still alive? >> yes, she is. she was a secretary when i was very young. it went back to school and became a schoolteacher. eventually she became an administrator. after retirement, she has just been elected to the school board in her parish in louisiana. >> four brothers, where are they? >> two are still in louisiana was in texas and one is in mississippi. they do not believe in going past the mason-dixon line. >> what do they think of their brother up here and the visible? >> we don't talk about a very much. we make jokes and have fun. my oldest brother calls by
often and may often than he is a big obama supporter and he tells me to take it easy on my president whatever that means. he says don't be so critical or he will offer serious suggestions for me and i listened. . i think they are proud and happy for me as i am happy from them. they are amazing people and their own right them in three years of writing to \ this column which column has struck the biggest marriage? nerve. >> one was a column about dating. i had no idea it would strike such a dinner with people about what did you say? >> it was called the demise of
dating. it was the first time that the data showed that high school seniors, there were more of them who had never dated than those who said they did it often. i taught to read how that was a shift. -- i talked about how that was a shift. another recent one was about acceptance of gays in society. it was the first time that acceptance of gay relationship which is the quaint term used had crossed the 50% mark. it was the first time that more men founded more acceptable than women. i explored why that could be. the political things get whatever buzz they get. many of them have caught about the same weight and level of
controversy. our job is to be productive it away. provocative in a way. >> when you decide what you will write? >> any day of the week i come to it i will take it. i am looking all week long. i am following data. i can't make anyone published a study. i'm at the whim of what happens. i am constantly monitoring and checking. >> which polster is the most reliable? >> i think there're are many great outfits out there. there are some that are more regular polling operations who are bigger like gallup and they publish something daily. that is great for me because i
look for volume. the pew research center publishes rather regularly. they do several a week. that is great for me. there are other polling operations that do not have the money or inclination to go into the field that often. >> let me test you on one. if you go on the drug report -- drudge reports , you would see a rasmussen poll of president obama at 43%. what are you hearing that would get a reaction from you? >> the times has policies about which polls they will use. there are certain polls that they will not use. rasmussen is one of them now why would that be? >> i am not exactly sure. it is probably methodology. in general, in terms of
methodology, they like a live interview polls. it's a person uses robo-call ing they don't like that. that unlike internet:. there are valid reasons for not doing this. there are some you could look at as reference and try to find someone who calls live. >> is there a sample basis will not use? if they only call 500 people, does that indicate something to you? >> you want over of 1000. r 1000. hopefully, they have broken down by race, ideology and you want to be some what rep. it is not always part because a representative of the public at
large. if you're going to use it, say there is a skew in the sample if you can add them up let me ask you about three locations in your life. >> what kind of shape is louisiana in today? >> my relationship to it is very distant at this point. i visit my local area which is north. 40 miles north as arkansas. it was not really affected by the hurricane. i had not -- this year was the first time i had been back to new orleans. i did not want to say it but i want to remember it the way i remembered it. when i was there two thing struck me. you could not see the damage from the airport to the hotel.
i did not see what a lot of people sought. aw i stayed in the french quarter. there is a certain change in the vitality and fabric of that city. the french quarter has always been a raucous place along bourbon street. it is touristy but it began to feel more like a less vigorous than new orleans that weekend. i couldn't put my finger on it. there was this enormous displacement of the local population. they were the workers.
it felt like the fabric was different. i think that is unfortunate because it was a special special place and part of what made it special was the poor people lived there. those are the people who have the fewest options about returning and rebuilding their lives them up how much do you still wanted the governor of louisiana? >> not at all once i figured out politics was a messy thing i give up on that. >> what do you mean by massey? >messy. >> when you study politics as a kid in a classroom situation -- >> were you president of your class? >> yes from sixth grade thru 12th grade. and freshman and junior years in college. that idealism wears off.
you see what it means to run for a big office and the money becomes a factor. all the dirty miss you have to get involved in and the dirty hands you have to shake to raise enough money to be a politician it loses its luster very quickly. the deals that you have to make means -- i tell people all the time that i don't trust any politician because you have to do so many things to be a politician that are unsavory that it is hard for me to trust anybody 100%. >> louisiana, then at detroit. what happened in detroit to? ? >> i was there, it was already a hollow city. if he goes to the local barber shop and say they elected a black mayor and there were
riots the black mayor the white flight of the city -- >> the riots in 1967, they had a white mayor and a black american after that. >> this city never recovered from that period and continued to decline. when i was there the striking fact was that you could not buy a refrigerator in the city. there were no appliance stores in the city. >> why? >> because everybody was fleeing the city. there was no commerce left in the city of detroit. the battle mom-and-pop shops. you had a few chains. you had only a handful of real
grocery stores. i remember we would have to drive out of the city to do real grocery shopping. there is very little there to support the social structure of a city. there's a trickle at it as only got worse with the recession. now you see images of this place that looks like warsaw or something. >> your three children are 17 and 13 and there were born where? >> the oldest was born outside detroit. the other two were born here in new york city. >> when did you become a single father? >> that was 11 years ago. >> if you're talking to another
single father what kind of advice would you give them? >> it is very hard and it is hard and wast -- -- in ways -- there are women who do this all the time. i don't want to suggest that it is work because i and my god. it is a different experience. your friends are different. i would not as many of my friends to keep our kids. they are not built that way. men don't necessarily think in that way. i wrote a piece about learning to do my daughter's hair. or having to shop for her
clothes, particularly her underwear. women are looking at you and it is a weird experience. there is -- there are these little momentum alive that make you understand how different you are among those who are different than what is the hardest part? >> the hardest part is what many people experience when they are in these issues which is you never feel like you are doing anything 100%. i never feel like i can give 100%. i don't feel like i have done everything at home. there is a stress involved in that. it never seems to go away. >> how do you fix a little girl's hair? [laughter] >> it is a process.
it requires a lot of equipment. i kept it in a tackle box. i went to the hardware store and i said i needed something for all that stuff. the tackle box was perfect. it is a process. >> how does she like to wear her hair? >> different ways which is hard. >> you are an expert? >> she is old enough that she does herself for the most part. she does not do a lot of fancy things. she is an athlete so she sweats all the time. >> got louisiana and detroit and michigan and now new york city. how long were you in washington? >> i never lived in washington. >> york commuting all the time but how long did you work for national geographic? >> it was almost two years. >> is there any thing about
national geographic that you found unusual or interesting after you got inside? >> i think it is an amazing place. they are doing god's work. they are doing something that no one else has the ability to do or the financing to do and it is amazing. i used to say this before they called me. it was the only place i would leave the times to go to. i have always been in awe of the visual impact of that magazine. you understand what it takes to put it together. and it is a very long process. you are planning stories that will not show for one year and a half. that is a very long process.
you become very intimate with the information. it contract for a while and that can be its own stress. the only option is to go back and change and you take those opportunities and you can change to the point where you can do work to make yourself feel busy. >> it has lost some circulation in recent years. >> i am not an expert on that. i sensed that there is a strong international presence for the magazine. in some cases, that may have been growing and it was still a premium product. you get here very cheap but there it is not. some combination of national geographic as an international geographic and as a web product
>> rep cliburn capture the essence of people that day that everything had changed which the election of obama. we are seeing that that is the farthest from the truth. in fact, we are moving into an area in the national consciousness that we have not been in before where people wanted to be true and many things have changed and the fact remains stubborn that family life is not necessarily change and economic conditions may have got worse for many people probably because of the recession.
it becomes more his economic issue. you see the reactions that people are having around the issue of race and whether or not certain actions can be categorized as racist. can that make the accuser the racist thinker? everything has gotten very muddy but the stubborn facts remained a problem. when people say things like no one has an excuse anymore for anything, that is not true. it is problematic to make other people think that is true. that said, there is a lot of personal responsibility that people have to take. the polls show that people are taking a more personal response ability.
there was one poll or african americans thought their issues were more their own fault than they were because of the impact of racism. that is a big move forward in thinking. that comes because of obama. the way that other people perceive you not just how you perceive yourself, has to change as well. we have to negotiate those issues. >> on february 19 of this year, you wrote --
what do the charts show? >> there are measures like incoming quality measures of well-being whether it is measures of insecurity. it was seven or eight of them and in most categories, we were among the worst of the worst when compared to 33 other industrialized countries. people don't generally think of us that way. we have this mindset that because we are the biggest economy and have the strongest military because we do have some of the most inventive people in america -- the internet is the comes from the u.s. but there is a lot of measures on well-being where a large swath of the population are not doing well at all.
until we acknowledge there is a gap between those who are succeeding and those we see on television and the wealthy women on "desperate housewives" wherever or the people live in cities and a lower rung, we cannot say that we are number one. we are falling back on some of these measures that i use said republicans have submitted a draconian budget that would make deep cuts in the tiny vendettas discretionary spending and cuts that would prove devastating to the poor and working-class. >> there are so many areas where it makes no sense to cut particularly in education and well-being of young people.
there are many cuts in there that go directly to food stability for poor people and young people in particular. i wrote another column about cuts that would have a direct impact on infant mortality in which we are number one among the 33 industrialized countries. that does not plan for a future where you want to reemerge as number one in terms of strong healthy people and strong thinkers who are smart and capable. if you just -- it doesn't take a lot of math to deal with these bigger emerging economies. if you take china, it is a big emerging economy. they have so many more people than we have. if you take the top 10% of their students they have more honor students than we have students.
all of a sudden, the mattes says we don't have students to waste. we need to reinforce education because we need all of them to compete with the top 10 or 15%. we cannot cut pell grants because we need each person who graduates from high school to go to college. once free realize we don't have disposable people, once we move beyond the concept that we want to penalize people who all had children, or maybe they could not afford it, you should pay a penalty for this tax \ \ \? if we did not need anybody to compete with the outdoors and in india, maybe we could afford to do that but we cannot afford to be punitive at this point. >> you start off the column with a sentence --
it is time for us to stop lying to ourselves. how hard is it to write a line like that? >> it was hard at first. i'm looking for something that grabs you. i'm looking for something simple clear containing a thought and forward momentum that pushes you forward to want to read the rest of the column. it is an entry point that is enticing. >> on august 27, 2010 -- do you write your own headlines? >> yes, i do. >> of the headline is "i had a nightmare." glen beck is the anti-king. >> it is the idea that it is a
play on the dr. king "i have a dream"speech . he spent a lot of time trying to coopt. itunes into a couple of programs where -- i thune to into a couple of programs where he took the marching orders that were given and said this is what we should do in the tea party. he said this is king's dream and we're the fulfillment. there's a certain point where i consummate this but enough. that was a bridge too far for me. >> when you watch glen beck -- >> and not a regular viewer. >> doesn't the n.y. times of view him in a certain way?
>> i have a hard time believing all the things that he says. to each his own. i don't have to take part in that and i don't have to watch it. i would discourage everybody from watching it but if you want to be entertained -- >> how far you dip into the conservative talk-show world? >> i thought -- i try to follow them on twitter and social networking to see with the headlines are or i will check web sites from time to time, particularly if there is something in the news they would weigh in on. i want to see what they are saying. sometimes it is fair stuff. it can get muddy but i can't there is some fear things.
i published my e-mail address; because i get a lot of unedited commentary from people on the right. i weed out the offensive things. some people make some interesting points and i think it is important for people in positions like mine to at least have an ear open to opposing views. >> what is it like to have the conservative talk-show hosts run daily against "the new york times." >> i don't care. >> does "the new york times"pay attention? >> i don't pay attention. >> they constantly beat up on " the new york times"as being the antiqued christ. >> i don't pay attention to and
i don't know anyone in the building who pays attention to it. they are striving to be objective. we all have opinions and they are different than a dozen other major theme in a part of this area do you live in? >> in park slope. >> how often do you go into the office? >> as often as needed. if i can work from home, i will do it. >> how often do you get ideas for a column outside of either a pole or survey? where did they come from? >> i have ideas all the time and things i love to write about that i cannot find data to support. i follow pop culture.
there are many things there i would love to read about. contrary to what many believe, i am not a political nerve at heart. l nerd at heart. i have a broad range of interest to some of them feel too light for that space and some don't have data to support them so i do not write them. >> this is a column from february 5, 2010 -- you're making a point when you're going how does that trend with today? >> some parts of the president
changes comes in spurts and disappears which is interesting because you don't know why that is. you don't know who you will get for the next three months. the person we are getting now is incredibly quiet. eerily so. there is quite a bit happening and you rarely hear from him directly. north africa and the middle east is incredibly unstable. you have the situation in japan. you have a situation with compton. this is a president who said in 2007, if there is an attack on collective bargaining, i will put on my boots and be right there with you. well that was not true.
he is not only not there, you barely heard anything from him on that subject really don't know who you will get. when he is on, he is great. he can be a very galvanizing figure. i think sometimes he and his inner circle calculates that it is better for him to hang back. >> what is your sense of who would be his strongest opponent for 2012? >> the energy in the midterms is coming from the tea party but it is hard at this point to figure out who 80 party candidate would be. -- who a tea party candidate would be. mitt romney is not necessarily tea party. on the other hand, you have the
strongest of the tea party types which is mike huckabee who says he is not running. the sarah palins of the world are interesting personalities but even polling among republicans, she is not doing well. people don't see her as a presidential candidate as much as an interesting personality for the cause. it is hard to figure out if romney became the candidate would he have the energy from the tea party crew or if you found a tea party candidate, are they in electable? >> me combine a couple of your columns --
later on, you say -- you say for balloting -- you say frugality and she went to the ritz-carlton and when you talk about some of the other things like fearlessness, she is withdrawn as to what are political views are. would you read the same column today? >> people michael lott for spending too much money. i don't really buy into that. -- people made a lot of her spending too much money. i don't buy into that. she is operating on the same caucus as the president which is better to say little or nothing
even while being attacked. it is a more graceful and stately position. the attacks on her at this point are in tents. i wrote this past weekend about the attacks on her childhood obesity campaign which would you think would be a slam-dunk issue. people have revved up the attacks on the first lady and her position has been to sidestep. >> there is another column you wrote on march 12 -- you get a nice center position --
you have a big chart showing the different regions of the country. what got your attention on this and why you trust pew. >> i think they are a great polling group and they have a big sampling. i use them all the time. what caught my attention here was being from the south the states that are most conservative, conservatives are bashing the first lady for this approach. the states that are the most conservative are the ones that have the biggest issues with obesity and general, childhood
obesity and the accompanying problems that brings along. i just want to point out that they have the most to gain from dealing with this issue. >> it shows on the charts the percentage of obese children from 2007 and you go down to the south and mississippi 44.4% compared to a state like south dakota where it is only 28.4%. how long does it take you to do a column like that. >> i do the graphics. that is the fun part. once i have figured out what i want to write, it is not hard to do. the problem -- the challenge for may is finding a subject that sings. it is a sexy topic, the one that
people want to read, one that has -- that brings something new to the table, a new way of looking at it and analysis only i can deliver to the subject. that is the hard part. you could write three of these things per day, finding something that is great is not so easy. >> somebody comes to you for advice and you have been talking to some kids and you have been president request for eight years? >> yes, i was. >> good student, you had a mother that said do this and do that and you have become a high- profile columnists at "the new york times," and everybody says they want to do that, how do you get it done? >> i would say whoa.
i don't know how i got it done. i did not set out to do this. it feels like everything that has happened in my life has been some parts kill, some part hard work and determination and some part luck and being in the right place at the right time. what i do tell people because i talk to kids all the time is i say find something that you love. whatever your job is at that moment which are headed to doing that job 100%. many people like to game out their whole lives. they want to figure out the quickest way to get to the next phase. maybe that works. in my life, that is not the way i played it. i have played it by trying to be the best at everything i was doing at that moment.
another opportunity has always presented itself. >> what happens to your dad? >> he still lives in louisiana. he is only about 20 miles from my mom. they are very close and he is always at my mom's house and she still does his taxes. they are still an old couple bickering back and forth and getting along. it is queued to watch. >> how long have they not been married? >> they have not been together since i was 5. i'm not actually sure when the actual divorce was. it was not a thing. charles >> blow, columnist for "the new york times," we thank you for your time. >> for a dvd copy of this program, called a number on your
screen. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at qanda.org. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> coming up, we will take your questions and comments on "washington journal." also a discussion on libyan conflict and later this evening, president obama delivers a speech on libya from the national defense university in washington, d.c. this morning on "washington journal," a look ahead at what congress will work on this week. also a discussion on u.s. involvement in libya and terrorism fears. with a form